Where peace comes from
A Christian Science perspective: How can our prayers bring peace?
A note written on the back of a swatch of old wallpaper tells a story about peace. It was 1945, the year that World War II ended. Dorothy Waterhouse, an avid collector of historic wallpaper, was at an auction in Buzzards Bay, Mass., on the day that peace was declared between Japan and the United States. She wrote that while she was eating lunch in a restaurant overlooking the water, “a boat went through the canal tooting its horn, having picked up the first news of peace on its radio. Every single person at the luncheon spontaneously left their chairs [and] knelt in prayer. Most impressive!” You can almost see these people drop to their knees and pray in silent gratitude to God. They clearly knew where their help came from.
The end of conflict between nations is so often dearly won that it is good to think about where peace comes from and how to bring more of it to the world. From experience, we know that peace isn’t a commodity that can be bought or even coerced. An inner desire for peace has to be in the individual hearts of the warring parties.
Because peace is a quality of thought, it can be nurtured in each of us. In the Bible, love, wisdom, health, safety, and contentment are all associated with peace. Peace is multifaceted, but its nature is always spiritual. The book of Psalms traces the source of peace straight to God, “The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace” (Psalms 29:11).
To fashion a more peaceful world, we have to first gain the understanding of peace ourselves, and Christian Science gives us this opportunity. Peace for the individual comes with understanding that there is truly only one divine Mind, or God, who is right now governing man righteously. Mind is a name for Deity that Christian Science uses to indicate the infinite intelligence that is God. Real peace is the awareness that Mind creates man to express both wisdom and love. This is the spiritual man that the Bible teaches is the image of God, the real identity of all of us – the expression of God’s own perfection and the child of His care.
In our prayer for peace at home or in the wider community, we can look to the source of justice, peace, and wisdom – God – for the assurance that our thoughts and actions are governed by Mind; they are not at odds with each other. Hatred, greed, and fear are not native to the spiritual man that expresses infinite Mind, or divine Love.
How peace comes to hearts and minds is best shown by Christ Jesus. Jesus was called the Prince of Peace for the salvation he brought to humanity. From the very start, his message and mission awakened people to God’s government of human lives through love. Jesus’ own life gives many examples of overcoming disturbances of all sorts. He silenced the squabbling and rivalry among his closest followers; he was undeterred by the hatred of religious and political officials; he gave peace and health to people suffering from diseases.
Christ Jesus made it clear to his disciples that peace isn’t the product of exterior conditions, but comes with a more spiritual view of God and man. After a ministry of three years filled with his enemies’ unsuccessful attempts to rob him of peace, Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, witnessed national and international wars in her lifetime. She writes about peace: “The First Commandment in the Hebrew Decalogue – ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ – obeyed, is sufficient to still all strife. God is the divine Mind. Hence the sequence: Had all peoples one Mind, peace would reign” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 279).
Freedom for ourselves from conflict, animosities, or going at cross-purposes comes with a growing realization that many rival minds can’t have power to control us if divine Mind is one and infinite. Prayer that looks to Mind as universal Love leads us to choose better thoughts and to take intelligent actions that bring peace between people. Understanding God as the one Mind brings peace within ourselves and illuminates this truth to others, because we see them as God’s offspring – and this higher view of mankind brings peace to conflict.
To be free of conflict is worth our prayers. Our privilege today is to obey the one God who is the source of peace by loving ourselves, our neighbors, and our enemies. It is because of the exclusive power of divine Mind that our efforts to make peace bear fruit.